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Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

Science Orbit

MAVEN orbit and primary science mission

MAVEN_periapsis_passMAVEN launched on November 18, 2013, and began orbiting Mars on September 21, 2014. The first fuel burn inserted the spacecraft into a capture orbit with a period of 35 hours and an altitude of approximately 380 kilometers. Shortly after Mars orbit insertion, a second fuel burn placed the spacecraft into its 4.5-hour period requirement for acquiring data. Three smaller burns reduced the periapsis altitude of the spacecraft to approximately 150 kilometers, placing MAVEN within the required density corridor and a 75° inclination elliptical science mapping orbit.

MAVEN’s elliptical orbit (~6,000 km apoapsis; 150 km periapsis) provides coverage of all altitudes. Five “deep-dip” campaigns (5 days each), bring the periapsis down to near 125 km. The orbit precesses in both latitude and local solar time and the one-Earth-year primary mission allows thorough coverage of the entire upper atmosphere of Mars.



MAVEN Mars atmospheric coverage (Courtesy NASA Goddard)

MAVEN orbit animation (Courtesy Chris Waters/Lockheed Martin)